Pak SC admits petition against Sherry Rehman on blasphemy

Sherry Rehman

The Supreme Court today admitted a businessman's petition seeking action against Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, for allegedly committing blasphemy over two years ago.

The petition filed by Fahim Akhtar Gill, a trader from Multan in Punjab province, was heard by a two-judge bench.

The judges directed the Multan city police chief to take action in accordance with the law.

Gill asked the court to direct authorities to register a case against Rehman under the controversial blasphemy law.

His petition claimed Rehman, a senior leader of the Pakistan People's Party, had committed blasphemy while appearing on a TV talk show over two years ago.

In November 2010, Rehman had submitted a bill to the parliament secretariat, seeking an end to the death penalty under the blasphemy law.

She was forced to withdraw the bill by her Pakistan People's party early in 2011.

In February 2011, Gill petitioned an additional district and sessions court in Multan, saying Rehman had committed blasphemy by speaking against the blasphemy law on a TV talk show.

The court had then directed police to register a case against Rehman.

However, police refused to act, saying the matter did not fall within their jurisdiction as the TV show had been aired from Islamabad.

Gill subsequently filed a similar case in the Lahore High Court before approaching the apex court.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the 180 million population are Muslims.

Mere allegations of desecrating the Quran or insulting Islam often provoke public fury and several persons accused of blasphemy have been lynched in recent years.

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